Situated on the River Tiber, Rome is known as the Eternal City. When you arrive, you have time to relax before you meet your Trafalgar tour director and fellow travellers at a Welcome Reception. After this, you will have an orientation drive which will take you to the Tiber and also St Peter’s Basilica.
On the next day, a local guide will take you to the Vatican museums. Inside the Vatican, you can ascend a smooth and completely step-less staircase, which was designed by Donato Bramante.
Then you visit the Sistine Chapel to view the magnificent frescoed ceiling by Michelangelo, and then go St Peter’s Basilica to see his famous Pieta. After this, you visit the Colosseum and the ancient Forum. Then it is a drive through the amazing scenery of the Tuscan hills to the spa town of Montecatini, where you will spend the next six nights at the Hotel Columbia.
On day three, you go to San Gimignano, which is famous for its ring of towers, which can be seen several miles from the town. You can wander the streets and buy local hand-painted Tuscan pottery. Then you travel on to Siena, which is where the annual Palio horse race is held, and visit the stunning marble Cathedral.
On the next day, you will go to Pisa and see the famous leaning Tower. Pisa also has another fine marble Cathedral where you can see the ornate Baptistery. Then it is on to the pretty town of Vinci where you can learn about the life and work of Leonardo, and visit the museum, which contains some of his works.
On day five, you spend the entire day in Montecatini at your leisure. If you wish, your tour director will be able to make suggestions as to how to spend the day. Day six is a trip to the fascinating ancient city of Florence, where you will visit the Piazza della Signoria and the Duomo. The next day is another day of leisure in Montecatini, broken only by a trip into the glorious Tuscan countryside for lunch.
On day eight, you will visit Assisi, which is the birthplace of St Francis, and visit the Basilica during your walking tour. Then it is back to Rome for a farewell dinner at the end of your holiday with your companions and tour director.
Food in Tuscany consists mainly of local, seasonal produce such as pork, game, olives, beans, and fungi, which include truffles in the south and porcini in the North. Meat is generally simply roasted or stewed, and served with simple vegetables. Many family small holdings keep rabbits and chickens and these features on the menus in the country areas.
The best times to visit Tuscany are during September and October, and again during April and May. At these times, there are fewer crowds at the major sites and the temperatures are comfortable. It can get extremely hot in Tuscany during the summer.